The AFL-CIO’s national campaign to build stronger communities by empowering eligible immigrants to become citizens and fully engage in the democratic process has become a reality in New Jersey, with the opening of the state’s first labor-led naturalization and community center.
The We Are One New Jersey Hudson County Center officially opened on Oct. 28 in Jersey City. AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre joined the New Jersey State AFL-CIO for the opening ceremony, along with Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.), New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech, New Jersey State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Laurel Brennan and a host of state, county and local officials and members of the community.
The center provides U.S. citizenship application assistance, preparatory classes for the citizenship test, voter registration and a deeper understanding of workplace rights. It is a first-of-its-kind collaboration between organized labor and Hudson County government. Nationally, the AFL-CIO is coordinating with the National Partnership for New Americans on the community-building initiative. Said Wowkanech:
We are very excited to have this opportunity to reach out to new Americans by providing hands-on assistance in the community. By helping our newest neighbors become naturalized and gain the right to vote, we uplift our entire community and make it stronger.
Hudson County is home to 653,000 residents, which includes a diverse and vibrant population of Latinos, Filipinos, Egyptians, Haitians, South Asians, Chinese, Portuguese and more. The county is also home to 93,000 Legal Permanent Residents, who are eligible to become U.S. citizens but may lack the financial resources, English-language skills or time to achieve their dream of full citizenship.